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Advice for matriculants: keep dreaming, planning and doing

Passed? Where to now?

Passed? Where to now?

In the past week, I’ve been bombarded by articles on matric results, with people giving their take on how to deal with this never-ending problem and the way forward.
If I’m feeling overwhelmed by all this, what of those poor matrics, having to cope with their success, achievements, failure, the future and joblessness?
Let me add my bit, gleaned from all my article readings…… My advice for school-leavers:keep moving, dreaming, creating and doing…you’re in the driving seat. Three key words: purpose, creative thinking and doing.
1. Agency
“Are we pilots or passengers” asks, Are we just drifting or directing our lives? The word agency is defined as “our power to affect the future” and the writer goes on to say we all have more agency than we think we have and we need to realise this and use it to steer our lives in the direction we want to go.
Using the ideas of Albert Bandura, We are advised to focus on our intentions, vision and purpose for our lives and then use our agency to work towards achieving our goals. We do have the ability and power to make things happen by planning and acting.
So, school-leavers entering the real whole need to be guided in some self-reflection to tap into their own purpose or goal and to plan how to fulfil it in a relevant way.
2. Daydreaming
Another article, based on an education and entrepreneurship report in the UK, focused on the value of daydreaming or “relaxed attention” in exploring alternative solutions to challenges and problems. Our school systems neglect this type of thinking and hence produce matriculants who can’t think for themselves, critically and creatively. This is a key ingredient in developing innovators, entrepreneurs and motivated citizens and engaging them in the social and economic (and yes, political) sectors of our society.
3. Operacy
“From Thinking to Doing” explores the ideas of Edward De Bono, the creative thinking guru. The three aspects of thinking: “what is; what may be; and what can be” are used to show how creative ideas emerge from changing what is already known to a new idea or product. “Finding a different use for an existing product or developing it into something completely different is what entrepreneurship is all about.”
Without detailing the cognitive process, suffice it to say that according to De Bono, “In education we are concerned with literacy and numeracy. That leaves out the most important aspect of all, ‘operacy’. The skills of action are as important as the skills of knowing. We neglect them and turn out students who have little to contribute to society.”

Moving on with purpose, creativity and action

Moving on with purpose, creativity and action

Solution
Change our education system, focus on skills of thinking and action, and we won’t experience this annual crazy frenzy of opinions about the state of education and how students should learn and be taught to become useful and productive. Students would feel more empowered to steer the course of their lives in ways that suit them, their knowledge and skills, their circumstances and their own goals for their future.

And, by the way, everything I’ve said applies to young, old, individuals and businesses too….. have a brilliant 2015!

NGOs a site for PR skills development

Earlier this month a jubilant Department of Education announced the 78% pass rate for the 2013 Matriculants. But hot on the heels of the release came questions, criticisms and expressions of concern regarding the lack of jobs, the skills deficit, and the relevance of a university degree when there was dire need for artisans (who actually earn more than graduates). We all know the problems but what about solutions?

On 9 January Rowan Philp wrote a piece in The Witness entitled “Volunteer or Bust!”
http://www.witness.co.za/index.php?showcontent&global[_id]=112563

What caught my attention were the following:

• pupils had “fixed and unrealistic ideas” about jobs
• “Young people have to change their mind-set from ‘What can I get from employers?’, to ‘What can I give to employers?’ They should draw up a list of all the employed adults they know – and ask to work-shadow, intern, or just volunteer.”
• gain on-the-job experience, even if it meant no pay.
• there was “increasing concern” over viable careers for matrics.
• the country needed artisans and entrepreneurs.

The matric results have focused the nation’s attention on the desperate need to address the problems of unemployment and skills shortage. For me, the NGO environment is an ideal one for developing volunteers into skilled workers and entrepreneurs over a wide range of activities while building the capacity of communities. I have been involved in CESL (Community engagement with Student Learning) projects and seen the positive impact on young people working with NGOs.

There are so many NGOs with uplifting projects needing staff and funding. In conversation with Michael Deegan, CEO of the PMB Community Chest, he mentioned the need for NGOs to think of new ways of doing things, and to rework their corporate identity, image and communication strategies to create more awareness and draw more donors, corporate sponsors and volunteers.

Clearly the new audience is the youth and so NGOs and charities need to change the perception that charity and community work is only for the older generation. Already the Community Chest has a programme directed at the youth called the “@Generation” to address this. Having young volunteers working in NGOs would go a long way to improve their understanding and perceptions of ‘charity’ work.

NGOs are multi-dimensional too in that they operate on so many levels and with so many stakeholders – from government departments, communities, business, international donors and aid organisations to local educators, women’s groups, healthcare givers and of course the media. Volunteers would leave with a range of skills, abilities and interests to offer the world of business.

So here’s my suggestion for a possible solution:

Volunteerism as “giving to grow” – NGOs, Business and the Community can do it together

We need to develop a volunteer programme whereby unemployed matriculants go into NGOs to work and to train.
The types of skills they would learn is wide-ranging, from office admin, computer, financial and business to project management, government relations and funding policies, procedures and proposals.

However, my sphere of interest and expertise is corporate communication and public relations, so I will focus on NGOs and their dire need of strategic planning in this area. They are also perfect sites for potential learning and development of specific communication and PR skills, techniques and activities which are vital for their existence.
These include: Branding, copy writing, publicity, interpersonal communication skills, CSI – corporate social investment, community relations, media relations, sponsorship, integrated marketing, event management, and so on.

All they need is people to teach them! And funds to pay them.
So my proposal is that business contribute in money and in kind to enable NGOs to implement such a programme by covering the cost of willing professionals like me to deliver skill interventions and deliverables to achieve the outcomes – NGOs performing optimally, addressing socio-economic issues like healthcare, education, skills development, unemployment, whilst simultaneously building citizens, communities and the country.

It’s not impossible. It just takes concerned citizens and business to put their money where their mouths are! NGOs like The Community Chest are waiting for you…….